The opening day of the Aintree festival boasts four Grade 1’s on a tremendous day of jump racing in Liverpool, with today competing with Ladies Day and National Day in terms of both drama and excitement.
The opening Grade 1 Juvenile Hurdle looks wide open with the Triumph Hurdle winner Tiger Roll missing and unable to follow up his Cheltenham success, which leaves Activial (1.30) the pick for Harry Fry and Noel Fehily.
That being said, Calipto looked sure to play a part in the Triumph when his stirrup leather snapped two out and he is respected, alongside the re-opposing Broughton and Guitar Pete.
Denis O’Regan rides Commissioned ahead of Broughton yet it is hard to see him turning around the form with Activial, who was impressive when winning a strong renewal of the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton in February.
The New One (3.05) is impossible to oppose in the Aintree Hurdle having looked such an unlucky loser in the Champion Hurdle last month when he was not beaten far in third having been badly hampered by the fall of the ill-fated Our Conor.
Diakali has been nibbled since betting opened after his fourth in the County Hurdle but he looks to be must be surely running for second place with The New One in a league of his own.
Sam and Nigel Twiston-Davies’ 6-y-o is 5/1 to make amends in next year’s Champion Hurdle and I expect him to go even shorter after storming to victory, going one better than his second in the race last year.
Silviniaco Conti was beaten less than two lengths in the Gold Cup and wasn’t at his best when third in the Aintree Bowl last year behind First Lieutenant who re-opposes in a cracking renewal.
The selection has to be Dynaste (2.30), however, a brilliant winner of the Ryanair (2m 5f) last month when he looked as if he would appreciate the return to today’s trip. The Aintree Foxhunters’ is one of my favourite races of the whole year and Mossey Joe (3.40) one of my favourite horses in training and I will be out of pocket if he doesn’t land this prize for Ireland.
I think if he jumps round the course he wins and trainer Edna Bolger was toying with the idea of running him in the National; owner Barry Connell deserves a welcome change of luck and Mossey Joe had a pipe opener in a point-to-point last month when he came home alone.
Just five go to post for the Manifesto Novices’ Chase over two and a half miles with all but Emma Lavelle’s Fox Appeal having raced at the Cheltenham Festival last month. Western Warhorse pipped Champagne Fever to the Arkle but has struggled with consistency and is worth opposing as the likely favourite.
It is of my opinion that Oscar Whisky is far from a fluent chaser and preference is for Alan King’s Barbury Castle inmate.
The closing three miles handicap hurdle looks a fascinating renewal with Riverside Theatre back over the smaller obstacles and is respected however preference lies with David Pipe’s unexposed Doctor Harper (5.25) on the back of his excellent third at Sandown.
The 6-y-o ran a stormer under top weight and should thrive stepped up to three miles.